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Uniformed Services University Grad Follows in His Father’s Footsteps

 Ryan Craig featured in the foreground in a white coat.

By Ian Neligh

“A father is someone you look up to no matter how tall you grow.” - Unknown 

The original inspiration for Father’s Day was a Civil War veteran, William Jackson Scott, who raised six children on his own after his wife died during childbirth. 

Good parents leave a positive impression on their children that can last a lifetime, while also proving to be an endless source of inspiration. 

Retired Navy Cmdr. (Dr.) William “Bill” Craig, who graduated from the Uniformed Services University in 1990, is the embodiment of that sentiment and has served as the motivation and inspiration for his son, USU class of 2021 alumnus Navy Lt. (Dr.) Ryan Craig.  

Inspiration

It was around the dinner table that Ryan Craig remembers the initial inspiration which led to him becoming a doctor. 

Ryan Craig and his father, William Craig, standing side by side.
Navy Lt. (Dr.) Ryan Craig stands with his father, retired
Navy CDR. (Dr.) William Craig. Ryan followed his
father's footsteps when he decided to attend USU and
graduate as a physician. (Photo credit: Courtesy of Ryan
Craig)
“Both of my parents are doctors, and I still don’t know how they did it, but every night we sat down for a home-cooked meal around the dinner table and all of my siblings agree that it was an invaluable time for us,” Ryan said. 

His parents talked about their day at work, and soon Ryan grew interested in the world of medicine. 

“My parents would talk about the crazy stuff they saw during the day and they would either compare stories or just talk about the normal stuff they saw,” Ryan said, adding during those family dinners the idea to become a doctor and join the “family business” took root.

“There were lots of medical conversations at our dinner table — he was medically fluent early on,” jokes Bill Craig. “We would have very in-depth medical conversations while he was growing up. It was just like the normal content in our house between my wife and me — and then he would get engaged and then the other two kids would as well.”

Ryan said going through college, the thought of attending medical school was always in the back of his mind.

“I knew, after watching my dad’s military career, and how highly he spoke of his time in military medicine, that I should strongly consider military medicine as well,” Ryan said. “I decided if I was going to go into the military it was going to be through USU.”

But, his father didn’t want to direct Ryan to military service unless it was something he found a calling for. 

“He had other options,” Bill said. “His mom and I were pretty convinced that medicine would be a good option for Ryan and I was okay with his going to USU — but it was his decision. We didn’t want him to feel pressured by us to take that route.”

However, Bill said he may have influenced his son when he told him the most interesting things he’d done medically were when he was in the service.

“You just have experiences that nobody else has — you will not fly in a helicopter over the Red Sea — unless you’re in the military, it’s just not going to happen,” Bill said. 

In Uniform

Ryan applied broadly to medical school, and interviewed at a host of other universities but said he ultimately found they didn’t compare.

“Just seeing how happy the students were [at USU], and how dedicated the staff were, sealed the deal for me,” Ryan said. 

Soon Ryan was walking down the same hallways and attending lectures in the classrooms his father had 30 years earlier.

“I’m really proud of what he’s done,” Bill said. “I think in so many ways he’s exceeded our expectations. My wife and I joke we feel sorry for our patients when we were med students because we knew so little compared to what Ryan knows.”

The father and son, and USU alumni bond, of ret. Navy Cmdr. (Dr.) Bill Craig and Lt. (Dr.) Ryan Craig, is immortalized in the brick courtyard of the
University's campus. (Photo credit: Courtesy of Ryan Craig)

Ryan is now blazing his own path as a Navy doctor but he said he still finds his father’s dedication to medicine inspirational. He added his father doesn’t cut corners, which is a lesson that he takes to heart in whatever he does as well. 

“And I think that is something that also helped lead me to follow in his footsteps in medicine,” Ryan said.

Besides advice and being a role model there’s a memory that Ryan has found inspirational over the years.

“When I first started putting on uniforms, I remembered my dad walking out the door in his uniform and always feeling like that was the coolest thing for me growing up, seeing him in uniform,” Ryan said. “It still sometimes catches me that ‘it’s my turn to wear it.’”